Celebrating Small Wins: The Power of the Daily Victory

When facing problematic issues with our kids, like teenage depression, we may feel like we want solutions immediately. We may have the desire to want the problems to go away and want a quick-fix solution to these issues. While wanting problems of troubled adolescents to go away quickly is understandable, we may be neglecting to notice the small wins and the short-term positive progress that could be happening right now. When we notice and celebrate small wins, we can begin to build positive momentum to move forward and look toward the next day. Solving bigger issues may be best viewed in smaller pieces. To paraphrase a common saying, we cannot climb the mountain in a single bound: we must begin with a single step forward, but the cumulative effort of single steps will bring us to new heights.

When helping our kids overcome depression or suicidal ideation, we may have to look at managing our expectations. We may want change to happen overnight due to the danger and the negative consequences of these issues. We love and care about our kids and want them to feel happy. We do not like to see them hurt or taking a path toward self-destruction. Focusing on completing one thing per day can help us move forward toward long-term positive changes. Depression can affect a person’s energy levels and motivation. They may need to start small and change their mindset slowly. Once our kids are doing just one positive thing per day, they are beginning their recovery.

Keeping It Simple: “One Thing a Day”

At Fire Mountain, we believe in the power of making small changes to yield positive long-term results. By narrowing our attention and focus on fixing one small problem each day or teaching one positive behavior daily, we can start to help our kids make better decisions and healthier choices. By asking our kids to do just one thing per day, we can help them manage some of their underlying issues, like depression or suicidal ideation. The “one thing a day” strategy helps us by setting the expectations low, which helps our kid buy-in to a low level of demands. We may feel that low-levels of demands might be “letting our kids off easy” or “making them lazy.” We have to let go of these preconceptions and trust the long-term process. A depressed adolescent may have a difficult time seeing the bigger picture as a series of small steps and may build resistance toward tasks that seem too big. They may feel overwhelmed, confused, or frightened by the future. By having our kids agree to do one simple chore or healthy behavior per day with no other demands placed upon them for the remainder of the day, we can decrease resistance and begin moving forward in recovery. Each day, they can agree to a different activity, continue keeping the demands and expectations low.

The following are some examples of “one thing a day” activities that can foster positive change and long-term growth:

  1. Straightening their desk

  2. Vacuuming around their room or another part of the home

  3. Sweeping the floor

  4. Drinking a glass of water instead of a soda

  5. Going for a short walk outside

  6. Making their bed

  7. Self-care activities, like showering and brushing teeth

  8. Eating a piece of fruit with a meal

  9. Cleaning their dishes

  10. Cleaning out their car

  11. Spending time on school work

  12. Cleaning a window

  13. Disinfecting door handles

  14. Putting on clean clothing

  15. Any other low-level chore or healthy activity that our kids can easily agree to

Once our kids are focusing on completing just one thing per day, they are on their way toward recovery. By thinking ahead about what chore or activity they can complete the next day they are getting into a recovery mindset by:

  1. Thinking about the future

  2. Planning the next day

  3. Finding purpose in their activities

  4. Feeling valued by helping at home

  5. Learning to care for themselves

Depression and suicide can make an adolescent fear the future. They may feel overwhelmed, anxious, or confused. They may not feel as though they make a difference or matter to others. By completing just one thing a day, kids can learn to plan for the future in small steps. By acknowledging the positive changes that they are making with praise and positive encouragement, they can feel valued and find purpose in life. Once kids are planning for the next day and feel valued, they can begin to step out of the dangerous realm of depression and suicide. They can begin to think about a brighter future, one day at a time.

The “one thing a day” strategy can help parents who feel unsure of how to help their kids out of depression. By agreeing to one low-level demand or healthy activity per day, kids can learn to plan and think about the future. Depression affects our ability to look forward. We may fear the next day or feel overwhelmed about the future. When kids deal with depression, they may need to learn simple ways of taking things one day at a time. Fire Mountain is here to help parents of troubled teens. We know that depression among teens and adolescents can lead to self-destructive decisions, like drug or alcohol use. Depression can also lead to suicidal ideation, suicidal behaviors, or other self-injurious behaviors. We are here to help both you and your kid find effective solutions to manage problematic behaviors and thoughts.

Call us today at (303) 443-3343.

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